and so my next question naturally is…

…what sort of selection pressures for, say, behavioral traits and iq existed under the manoralism system in medieval europe versus the earlier tribal system? (obviously these are pretty broad categories that changed in nature quite a bit over time and between places, but still….) i’m thinking along the lines of “The 10,000 Year Explosion” in which (duh!) human evolution is ongoing and, like in the case of ashkenazi jews in europe, what happened during the medieval period was obviously important.

so, what happened to the germanic peoples during the middle ages evolutionarily speaking? anything? nothing? a lot?

in a tribal system, you’d think that within any given clan or tribe, most or all of the members would be kinda-sorta taken care of since everyone is family. you’d think that a lot of the members, therefore, would be able to leave at least some descendants behind. obviously, the chief of a clan might be able to leave behind the mostest descendants of all, but might it be that in a tribal system, more of the members might be reproductively successful than maybe…

…in the manoralism system, where the extended family system is gone and we’re left with pretty much just nuclear families operating in a corporate sort of world. in the manor system, there were different classes of peasants/laborers from free tenants to slaves (again, depending on when and where you’re talking about). but, clearly, those more able to succeed under the manor system prolly left behind more descendants than some others (’cause they were more fit to that environment, no?). so, those able to work their way up to and maintain the status of peasant or free tenant presumably were the most successful reproductively (after the lords, of course).

given that these peasants had to work their own land as well as do a lot of work on the manor — and given that many of them settled and opened up new territories in eastern europe (in which to farm the new grains with the new techniques) — what traits might have served the successful ones well?

obviously, you couldn’t be too dumb. maybe even practical, 3-d rotation intelligence would be good to have for engineering drainage systems and the like. i’d say that personality traits like hard-working and industriousness would also be selected for. i guess that might sorta be conscientiousness in a way, but not exactly. law abiding? conformity? i.e. not rocking the manoralism boat too much?

i also think in this new, non-tribal corporate world, whatever “genes for reciprocal altruism” might exist would prolly be selected for at greater rates than in a tribal society ’cause in the latter, kin selection altruism should be enough to keep things ticking along amicably. but not in a society where people are not so closely related.

anything else? any of this sound completely far out?

previously: medieval manoralism and genetic relatedness and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and loosening of genetic ties in europe started before christianity?

(note: comments do not require an email. the peasants are revolting!)

Advertisements

25 Comments

  1. maybe even practical, 3-d rotation intelligence would be good to have for engineering drainage systems and the like.

    It’s always puzzled me that the Romans of two thousand years ago were such stellar engineers (giant roads, bridges, aqueducts, and on and on), but that in the 1600s-1700s A.D. (and after) Industrial Revolution, most of the names behind the engineering advances are English, German, or French–the center of gravity of engineering prowess seems to have shifted hard-core to N. Europe. Why? Does it come from this manorial age, where N. Euros finally knew surplus, and population density, better nutrition, a critical mass of ‘smarties’ all able, all of a sudden, to do their thing? Is necessity the only mother of invention?

    Reply

  2. @m.g. – “…the center of gravity of engineering prowess seems to have shifted hard-core to N. Europe.”

    yeah, i don’t understand what happened there, either, but if you think about it, the engineering thing goes back before even the romans. first pyramids and ziggurats way down in egypt and the fertile crescent — then ancient greece — then rome — now northern europe like you say. where next? lappland? (~_^)

    are we just noticing a wave of clever neolithic genes washing northwards over europe (leaving a wake of not-quite-so-bright behind it)? i dunno.

    Reply

  3. “…so, those able to work their way up to and maintain the status of peasant or free tenant presumably were the most successful reproductively (after the lords, of course).”

    I don’t think there was much upward mobility on the manor; it was more a matter of escaping downward mobility, with the people at the top of the heap having more kids than would fit into the rather steep social pyramid, and those (relatively smart) kids having to be careful not to rock the boat to avoid falling further and faster than they needed to.

    I don’t think the payoff for risk-taking, adventurous, exploratory and aggressive behavior would be nearly as great on the manor as it would be in the age of the wandering tribes.

    If I was to be born in that time and I could pick a few mental qualities to help me hang onto my status for a while, I’d start with a resistance to drink, and a disinclination to borrow. Once you fell into the grip of a moneylender, whose kin would probably own the local drinking establishment as well, your life prospects and those of your children went way, way down. After that, I’d take industriousness, but that depends. In the conditions that applied in Poland and points East conditions of exploitatation were so severe for the peasants that the reward for working hard was small. In Germany and points West, I’d say diligence would be better rewarded. After that, I’d go for piety, because Christian disciplines really did cover up a mass of weaknesses. But it’s almost a wash, because if you get shuffled off to a monastery or a nunnery, all may be lost, genetically.

    Reply

  4. The reason I see risk-taking behavior as much less well rewarded than in the age of the wandering tribes is that if you are a tribal warrior and you hit paydirt for the tribe, the benefit goes to a lot of people, all of whom are closely related to you. You can suddenly improve the life prospects of thousands of people, all read-haired like you, all gracile like you, all relatively large-headed and clever like you, and so on.

    The manor just doesn’t offer that kind of reward. The maximum down-side of a risk is still what it was though. If you get a little too optimistic in planning, have a bad season, get desperate, get drunk and take out a loan to get by “for just this season” then the local userer will do very well and your family will get exploited to utter destruction paying heavy interst. So: wipeout.

    Reply

  5. I think Gregory Clark has substantially answered this question for England in A Farewell to Alms –

    http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/a_farewell_to_alms.html .

    In sum, only the middle class (skilled workers with brain or mind – not aristocrats) reproduced above replacment levels, so the cognitive skills and personality traits necessary for middle class jobs spread up and (mostly) down into the other social classes – causing the mass of people to become (over a timescale of some hundreds of years) more intelligent, more conscientious and harder-working, less aggressive.

    Presumably, something similar happened in similar places.

    Reply

  6. > Does it come from this manorial age, where N. Euros finally knew surplus, and population density, better nutrition, a critical mass of ‘smarties’ all able, all of a sudden, to do their thing?

    Improved social organization usually means worse malthusian stress and worse nutrition. I would guess that Germano-Celtic life was most violent in the old times before the conquest of Rome, and people of that day ate well on less (non-martial) labor.

    In my view, Nordish achievement in the arts — per capita — plateaued from 1050-1880, probably declining after that time due to dysgenesis. However, due to greatly increased population, high art continued to flourish until WWII, and to a lesser extent even the 60s. The craving for fine and beautiful things is innate, and I don’t think the current poverty of the high arts stems chiefly from cultural perversion. (Plenty of first-rate artists are perverse yet also extremely fine, such as Celine.) I would guess that the poverty stems largely from biological lack of ability.

    Nordish art from before 1000 AD or more especially 700 is really entirely crude, well below Egypt and Persia at their height not to mention Hellas or Israel. What changed from 200 BC or 400 AD to 1050 AD, when the truly great cathedrals began? Probably a lot of the change was cultural but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if like half of it were biological.

    Reply

  7. Improved social organization usually means worse malthusian stress and worse nutrition.

    In the jump from 50-strong hunter-gatherer bands to hundreds- or thousands-strong settled farming groups yes, nutrition is definitely worse, but Malthusian stress is just as present. Those small h-g bands stayed so small for just this reason.

    But your assertion can be nuanced by which latitudes you’re talking about. Neolithic settled farming tribal federations in northern Europe may have gotten pretty big, but they never developed (as far as archaeologists can tell) a big, non-food-procuring elite– presumably with the shorter growing seasons, tougher soil and harsher winters, the necessary surplus to support a parasite elite class never developed. (though later, stronger herder groups from the East came in and set themselves up as such.)

    But down in the Bronze Age Mesopotamian and Nile river valleys (two growing seasons, perfect soil, milder winters), just such a surplus and thus an indigenous elite could and did develop, and this non-food-procuring elite ate very well indeed, no matter the season or the year. Famine was for the little people.

    In such urbanized and elite-heavy societies, a smart fraction can develop faster.

    My point about N. Europe was that the long-term urban population density necessary for a bigger smart fraction to develop didn’t come until the late Middle Ages (whereas down in the warmer climes, it existed already in 3000-2500 B.C.). Could the manorial system have contributed to this? The breaking down of clan ties (less cousin marriage)? Better farming technology? Climate changes?

    In any case those Malthusian swings (except in the very worst of cases) rarely take out the whole non-food-procuring elite, and it’s from this elite that the smart fraction (philosophers, law-makers, engineers, etc.) tends to come.

    Reply

  8. And don’t forget climate. The Middle Ages are also famous for the Climatic Optimum. Temperatures then were higher than now. Growing seasons were longer, winters were milder and crops could be grown farther north than during the Dark Ages cold period.

    The Roman expansion also occurred during a warm age, and the Western (but not the Eastern) Roman empire collapsed during the ensuing cold age.

    Reply

  9. I’m not convinced the manorial system was beneficial in the terms we’ve been talking about. Europe pretty much stagnated ater the fall of Rome, at least compared to what happened later, so i find it hard to imagine the manorial system being an incubator for what came after. Also feudalism is actually a pretty common system in history. The Persians and Turks etc had their equivalent of knights given a village of peasants to support them and it doesn’t seem to have led anywhere.

    I think it’s a pretty stagnant system both for endogamy-exogamy reasons and because you’re basically wasting most of the brains on the right side of your bell curve.

    .
    Looking at it from the endogamy-exogamy pov the peasantry may have originally been a mixture of Franks and Latinized Gauls and ex-slaves from all over but each village would very rapidly become relatively inbred again. It would be interesting to see comparisons with modern day peasant societies but i’d imagine the total breeding pool might be something like say a village of 1000 people with maybe 5-6 similar-sized other villages nearby for a total pool of 6000 or so?

    Interestingly in a feudal society that’s liable to apply at the top end of the heirarchy too. At the royal / duke level the total marriage pool might be even less than the peasantry. However maybe at the lower level of aristocracy there was a change in the other direction – an increase in exogamy (county scale endogamy) among the knights and exogamy (national scale endogamy) among the barons with some consequent effects.

    If true then the endogamy-exogamy idea might predict that most innovations of this period would come from that caste of lower level aristos – however that is is a very small pool to get your innovators from.

    .
    Looking at it from a total pool pov

    Say you have a population with an average IQ x and innovators require an IQ of y then (if i understand how it works correctly) the number of innovator children each decile of the total population will produce might go something like
    – 1st 10% produce 50%
    – 2nd 10% produce 25%
    – 3rd 10% produce 12.5%
    – 4th 10% produce 6.25%
    – 5th 10% produce 3.125%

    So the right half of your national bell curve has the potential to produce 97% ish of your innovators.

    (These are just made up numbers to illustrate the point.)

    If your society is such that the total pool of potential innovators can only come from the top 10% of your society (because of poverty, education etc) then using these illustrative numbers, even if the top 10% are the top 10% in IQ you’re still wasting 50% of your potential innovators. If your total pool is actually closer to being only the top 1% of your society then you waste much more. On top of that if the elite is primarily selected on the basis of passing a minimum threshold of military prowess first then it’s unlikely to map exactly onto IQ anyway.

    This is why i don’t think feudalism can produce any kind of progress. The peasants turn clannish and stupid. The upper classes turn stupid. And only the junior aristocracy is available to produce innovation.

    .
    “and given that many of them settled and opened up new territories in eastern europe”

    I think this kind of thing may be more important. IIRC the German lords who conquered those terriotories had to entice peasants to come and settle there by offering them their own farms. This is similar to England after the plagues where the shortage of peasants led lords to offer freehold farms creating the yeoman farmer caste. If you look back at both republican Rome and the ancient greeks their societies were also built on a large bloc of citizen farmers.

    I think the reason yeoman-based societies produce the most innovation is the same as Victorian England or post-war USA – having as broad a middle-class as possible maximizes the pool from which your innovators can be drawn.

    So on the basis of both endogamy-exogamy and the total potential pool of brains available i’d expect the manorial system to be pretty stagnant and the place to look for innovation in Europe during this period wouldn’t be the manors but the monasteries and church lands as the church was the closest thing to a broad middle class after the roman collapse – especially as a lot of them would be younger sons of the knight caste and therefore perhaps the least inbred.

    That would shift later when a broader version, in both endogamy-exogamy and total pool terms, became available with the growth of the yeoman farmer caste and the regrowth of towns and urban specialization.

    .
    Or in a nutshell i think the European transition will have come from where the manorial system first started to break down.

    Reply

  10. @bruce – “I think Gregory Clark has substantially answered this question for England in A Farewell to Alms….”

    oh, right! i had “Farewell to Alms” in mind when i was thinking about this, but i’ve never read it. for some reason i thought he looked at a slightly later time period — i thought he looked at sort-of 1500+. didn’t realize he looked at data going back to 1200. cool!

    guess i’m gonna have to read that next. (^_^)

    Reply

  11. @daybreaker – “I don’t think there was much upward mobility on the manor….”

    no, not much upward mobility on the old manor, but mitterauer suggests that status wasn’t entirely stagnant, either. you might not be able to move your way up from cottager to free tenant (or whatever the equivalent was in lands other than england), but your son might.

    mitterauer argues that what the manor lords and monks were interested in were the best workers, so if your son happened to be a harder worker than you, he might actually move his way upwards a bit ’cause the lord would want to lease out his land to a hard worker. also, if your son is willing to be one of the crazies who’s willing to move eastwards and clear new lands, he might really be able to move up in the world. obviously no one’s moving up to the lordship position, tho. (~_^)

    Reply

  12. @daybreaker – “The reason I see risk-taking behavior as much less well rewarded than in the age of the wandering tribes is that if you are a tribal warrior and you hit paydirt for the tribe, the benefit goes to a lot of people, all of whom are closely related to you.”

    exactly! and that close relatedness is largely gone in the middle ages thnx to the church and tptb restricting close marriage.

    Reply

  13. @bob – “And don’t forget climate. The Middle Ages are also famous for the Climatic Optimum. Temperatures then were higher than now. Growing seasons were longer, winters were milder and crops could be grown farther north than during the Dark Ages cold period.

    “The Roman expansion also occurred during a warm age, and the Western (but not the Eastern) Roman empire collapsed during the ensuing cold age.”

    yeah, the whole climate thing is absolutely crucial. just like any other organism, we thrive much, much better in better (for us, anyway) climatic conditions — like a nice warming period. (^_^) not only did europeans do pretty well during the toasty medieval period, so did other groups, like the arabs.

    Reply

  14. @g.w. – “Also feudalism is actually a pretty common system in history. The Persians and Turks etc had their equivalent of knights given a village of peasants to support them and it doesn’t seem to have led anywhere.”

    yes, but … that’s exactly what mitterauer discusses in his book … that there were other feudalistic sorts of arrangements in some other cultures (like persia for a time), but that europe took its own “special path.”

    re. the persians during the sassanid era for example, mitterauer [pgs. 105-6] says that there were structural differences in the persian feudal system compared to the carolingian one — the arrangements for arming the knights were different — in europe, knights armed themselves with monies drawn from their fiefs — in persia they were armed by the king. also, in europe, the vassal knights could — and would — act as advisors to the king. not in persia.

    and, my own observation, of course the persians hadn’t eliminated close relative marriage.

    so, the underlying social structures were not the same across all feudal systems is i guess what i’m saying.

    Reply

  15. @g.w. – “This is why i don’t think feudalism can produce any kind of progress. The peasants turn clannish and stupid.”

    well, they do and they don’t. they can’t get that clannish — even tho they are inbreeding a bit because they’re prolly breeding locally — because they can’t marry anyone closer than a sixth cousin (which prolly varies a bit depending on enforceability).

    Reply

  16. Perhaps the manor life was at least a little different from the previous life, more complicated. It could be that Nords, in their rigorous clime, were already pretty close to the trait vector needed for high civilization – eg pretty high in IQ – if so, just a small amount of evolution would help.

    Reply

  17. @rs – “It could be that Nords, in their rigorous clime, were already pretty close to the trait vector needed for high civilization – eg pretty high in IQ – if so, just a small amount of evolution would help.”

    yeah. that they were preadapted (to be able to do clever things, like creating a high civilization).

    Reply

  18. It’s always puzzled me that the Romans of two thousand years ago were such stellar engineers (giant roads, bridges, aqueducts, and on and on), but that in the 1600s-1700s A.D. (and after) Industrial Revolution, most of the names behind the engineering advances are English, German, or French–the center of gravity of engineering prowess seems to have shifted hard-core to N. Europe. Why?

    My first guess is, there was so much military pressure on Italy, from Vandals, Muslims, and infighting, that the post-Romans just had a lot to think about other than building. They spread their language and engineering know-how to the Celts and Germans before they collapsed.

    Reply

  19. One simple thing you do by breaking up homozygosity/endogamy is probably realize a slightly higher level of meritocracy.

    As exogamy increases, the fitness payoff of nepotistic preferences and exertions will decline, ergo meritocracy goes up. In those pre-contemporary times, increased meritocracy in cash rewards (or any other rewards) is of course basically equivalent to increased meritocracy in fitness payoffs. If the salary gap between the 75th %ile soldier and the 25th %ile soldier increases a little bit – then so does their fitness gap increase a little. This is likely to have an appreciable effect when compounded over 20 generations, and would apply not just to soldiery but also to all other pursuits in a social context – such as agriculture, weapons and tool making, art, charm and fine manners, courtship, etc.

    Of course, homozygosity aids cooperation. So, who knows, military effectiveness, or agricultural effectiveness, might actually decline as endogamy ‘drains’ – yet that same change could at the same time inaugurate more meritocratic conditions that cause slow evolution toward improved abilities.

    Reply

  20. RS,

    “As exogamy increases, the fitness payoff of nepotistic preferences and exertions will decline, ergo meritocracy goes up.”

    Yes if you look at it like a balance. Say you are highly related to Person A and not related at all to Person B. Say they’re both up for a position where their performance could benefit or disbenefit your other relatives. Now if A is better than B at the job it’s win-win. However if B is better at the job than A then the practical disbenefits of poor performance counteract the nepotistic benefit. If the gap in relatedness between A and B is very high then the gap in performance between A and B would have to be very high to give the job to the non-relative.

    As you say, if you’re less related to your relatives then the gap in performance would need to be less before the net benefit points to hiring the non-relative.

    .
    “Of course, homozygosity aids cooperation. So, who knows, military effectiveness, or agricultural effectiveness, might actually decline as endogamy ‘drains’”

    Yes but don’t forget the third case.
    Case 1: endogamous relative vs stranger
    Case 2: exogamous relative vs stranger
    Case 3: exogamous relative vs exogamous relative

    Exogamy in a closed system leads to case 3 – the ideal for maximum co-operation and meritocracy.

    Reply

  21. bgc
    “I think Gregory Clark has substantially answered this question for England in A Farewell to Alms”

    hbdchick
    “i thought he looked at sort-of 1500+. didn’t realize he looked at data going back to 1200.”

    We may be thinking of different time periods. I was thinking of the collapse of Rome to c1200 time.

    Reply

  22. @g.w. – “We may be thinking of different time periods. I was thinking of the collapse of Rome to c1200 time.”

    yeah, that’s about the same time frame that i’m babbling about in this post — the time period covered by mitterauer in his book — something like the 500s to around 1200.

    i just didn’t realize gregory clark looked at all at the medieval period — never having read his book. but, yeah, i’ve been thinking more about the earlier medieval period, too, rather than the later. (^_^)

    Reply

  23. “It’s always puzzled me that the Romans of two thousand years ago were such stellar engineers (giant roads, bridges, aqueducts, and on and on), but that in the 1600s-1700s A.D. (and after) Industrial Revolution, most of the names behind the engineering advances are English, German, or French–the center of gravity of engineering prowess seems to have shifted hard-core to N. Europe. Why?”

    Say the premises are
    1) Each population has a maximum average IQ limit fixed by biology.
    2) That maximum can be partially suppressed by various factors. One of those suppressing factors may be excessive in-breeding (except where the rejects are explicitly culled). (As you’d have to wait a few years to find out if a kid was a dummy i doubt many cultures could accept that solution.)
    3) Each decile of your IQ distribution will produce a varying percentage of the next generation of innovators. This is your potential pool of innovators. How well any social organization mines the total potential pool of innovators will decide the actual level of innovation in a society.

    Given those premises there are a number of possible explanations but i think it’s at least partially explained by total pool.

    One of the noticeable things about the industrial revolution in Britain is the disproportionate influence of Scots. Now no doubt they could give various nationalistic reasons for that but i think a much simpler explanation is more plausible. Protestant denominations were keen on teaching everyone to read because they wanted them to read the bible. The more hardcore the denomination the more fanatical they were about teaching people to read and Scotland was more hardcore in this regard than England.

    So, using the same illustrative numbers as above for IQ deciles of parents producing the next generation’s innovators
    – 1st 10% produce 50%
    – 2nd 10% produce 25%
    – 3rd 10% produce 12.5%
    – 4th 10% produce 6.25%
    – 5th 10% produce 3.125%

    If during Roman times Italy was educating 10% and France, Germany, England and Scotland 0% then the relative amount of innovation would fit the known facts.

    If in the 1600s-1700s Italy was only educating the top 5% by IQ, France 10%, England and some parts of Germany 20%, Scotland and other parts of Germany 30% then they’d be be respectively mining c25%, 50%, 75% and 87.5% of their prospective talent pool. If the total potential pool in each country was Italy, France, England, Germany was 100 and Scotland 20 then the actual number of innovators produced on this basis might be something like 25, 50, 75, 82, 17 – hence the disproportions.

    Reply

  24. hbdchick
    “and, my own observation, of course the persians hadn’t eliminated close relative marriage.”

    Yes true. I’ve always seen feudalism as a kind of stagnant low-energy state which could only come back to life after it was got around somehow e.g. a post plague return to incentivized tenant farmers or something like that, but that was minus your exogamy thing. The other forms of feudalism around the world didn’t have that.

    Reply

  25. […] This is explained here.  The country that gave us modern democracy, modern capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution, England, had embraced the modern nuclear family early on.  In such a system, where all were related through extensive outbreeding, and each person needed to make it on their own abilities, and where the voice of every man was important, did the attitudes and beliefs that were the founding principles our modern society emerge (including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) (https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/but-what-about-the-english/, https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/english-individualism/, https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/english-individualism-ii/, https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/and-so-my-next-question-naturally-is/). […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Daybreaker Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s